I know I have been covering Europe for over 18 months but sometime things just confuse me:
Crowds of Popular Party supporters have celebrated outside the conservative party’s headquarters in Madrid after it won an absolute majority in parliament in Spain’s general election.
About 1000 people cheered and waved blue and white party flags on Sunday when Popular Party leader Mariano Rajoy, 56, appeared on a large balcony set up outside the headquarters accompanied by his wife Elvira and several top party officials.
‘Thanks to you and my party today we are here and we can say we have a very significant majority,’ he said to applause and cheers from his supporters.
With more than 99 per cent of the ballots counted, the Popular Party had 44.6 per cent of the vote and an absolute majority of 186 seats in the 350-member Congress of Deputies, its biggest election win ever.
The win gives Rajoy a free hand to ram through severe austerity measures in the eurozone’s fourth biggest economy.
The Socialists, in power since 2004, won 28.73 per cent of the vote, giving them 110 seats.
Voters were angry over a 21.5 per cent jobless rate, a stalled economy, government spending cuts and a worsening debt crisis.
‘I am very happy, we could not remain on the same path. I am really happy that they won an absolute majority. This way it will be easier for them to adopt the measures that Spain needs,’ said Ana Perez, a 46-year-old shopkeeper.
Mariano Rajoy, the new leader, was deliberately vague about his economic plans during the election campaign so that he didn’t frighten off voters. He simply stood back and let the incumbents fry themselves.
So what exactly is this revolutionary new plan that has sent the people into the street in a jubilant furore.?
Miguel Arias, the Popular Party’s campaign co-ordinator, said Spain was “going to make all the sacrifices”.
“We have been living as a very rich country, People are used to a very high level of public services and it takes time to them to acknowledge the realisation that we now are a poor country, that we have lots of debts and in order to pay them back we must reduce public expenditure and then we must recover the confidence of the markets.”
So some more austerity then.
Is it just me, or has the Spanish public just been sold a beautiful lie ?